Different Levels of Sexual Desire Between Partners in a Couple

How to Overcome The Issue?*

Sexual desire is defined as a sexual attraction or drive towards another person with whom we want to share real or fantasized sexual activities with. There are also many different types of sexual desire that one can express. Each one brings a dynamic to the couple and each partner may not share the same types of sexual desires or even the frequency to which they want sex with their spouse.

Rules of Couples

In every relationship, we find a High Desire Partner (HDP) and a Low Desire Partner (LDP). In other words, you always get one partner who wants more sex than the other one. These roles are interchangeable in a couple and varies during the relationship. Men and women can be in either roles and sexual orientation plays no effect on it. Normally at the beginning of a relationship, we don’t really see any difference. As time goes by, we tend to pinpoint who initiates more often, who wants it more, who avoids or even pretends they like it. As a universal rule, the LDP is the one who controls sex, whether they want to or not. They control how, when, how often, and the why of having sex. They have this control because they are the person who wants it less, therefore they get to choose. Sometimes, this is where name calling begins between them:

  • You’re frigid!
  • You never initiate.
  • You want it all the time!
  • I don’t have time to build it, because you’re always groping me
  • It’s because you don’t love me anymore
  • I tried everything, but nothing seems to work
  • Your seeing someone else

We’re in a Relationship, We Are Suppose to Have Sex

This dynamic is very frequent in couples who just don’t know how to handle being rejected for sex. They think that after a while of being with a partner, that it sort of their partner’s job or at least they own them some sex because they’re a couple. Typically, the High Desire Partner (HDP) will start initiating more often for sex and after being rejected a multitude of times they can then become even less desirable because they put all the blame on the partner. Some will go even further and stop putting any type of effort into seducing their lover when they want sex, yet still blame their spouse.

The HDP’s Position

The HDP does this to protect himself from feeling the hurt of rejection. When we’ve been rejected on numerous occasions for sex from our partner we start to doubt our desirability. We tend to choose to put less effort into flirting with our spouse, because when we give all that we’ve got and they still turn us down, it hurts even more. So the standard outcome is to start asking for sex from the Low Desire Partner (LDP) rather than creating sexual desire in them by being desirable ourselves.

The LDP’s Position

Now at a first glance, we might think that the LDP has the better position right? They are satisfied and get the frequency of sex they want and they have the control. Which is what the HDP tells them frequently, sometimes. Not so fast! Neither position in the couple, really feels comfortable. The LDP constantly has to put their limits towards their partner and respect themselves even when sometimes being barraged with name calling. They can feel inadequate and afraid to lose their partner because of it. Sometimes, they don’t like the sex they are having and don’t want to hurt their partners’ feelings by telling them, so they try to avoid it. Most of the time, they don’t feel they have control, because they are being bombarded by questions, accusations from their partner, which might lead them to offer pity sex.

Pity sex

Most couples will not want to admit they have pity sex, but it’s probably the most common in long-term relationships where partners haven’t dealt properly with their HDP and LDP dynamics. An unworked sexual desire issue between spouses brings alliance issues into the couple. Let us look more deeply into the pity sex dynamic. It is defined as offering sex we do not want to our partner because we are afraid of losing them or we just want them to stop asking profusely for sex or to avoid another conflict about the situation. As you might imagine, pity sex is the worst type of sex you can offer and get in a relationship. It is neither fun nor pleasurable for either people. The LDP is rarely if not at all participating in this type of sexual activity, which the HDP obviously sees or feels. The LDP might even make such remarks as: «let’s get this over with» and the like.

What is even more surprising in this situation, is not only does the LDP offer such awful sex, the HDP accepts it. Their way of thinking is: «well…if I don’t take this…I won’t get any at all». This is where they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Not only is accepting pity sex from a spouse a lack of respect to themselves, it’s a lack of respect to their partner as well. Think about it for a second: Why should your partner put any effort into sex if you’re willing to take anything that is given to you. This lack of respect of self, makes a person truly undesirable. Second, if the partner doesn’t feel like they’re respected because they are seen as a piece of meat their spouse just wants to have sex with, don’t expect them to do it for very long or even enjoy sex. This dynamic also makes the LDP feel undesirable to themselves, and therefore lacks sexual desire, because they lack integrity.

Francois Renaud M.A.
* Inspired by the book Intimacy and Desire from David Schnarch

Getting Yourself Together, Promotes Sexual Desire!: Overcoming The Fear of Rejection